WHO Europe Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: A 15 years study in 45 European countries
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WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition and Childhood Obesity, National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge, Lisbon, Portugal
Publication date: 2022-05-27
Public Health Toxicol 2022;2(Supplement Supplement 1):A47
Since COSI started in 2007/2008, over half a million children (6-10 years old) are measured and weighed according to the COSI protocol1 in 45 countries, every 3 years. Particular attention was given to the last two years marked by a global pandemic caused by COVID-19. Prevalence values of overweight and obesity are calculated by age group, using the cut-offs recommended by WHO2 to compute BMI-for-age Z-scores. In the 1st (2008) and 2nd (2010) rounds, prevalence of childhood overweight (including obesity) varied from 19.3% and 18.4% in Belgium to 49.8% and 42.5% in Italy, respectively. In both rounds, multi-country comparisons suggested the presence of a north−south gradient with the highest level of overweight found in southern European countries3. The latest data from 4th round (2016) showed a significant decrease in the prevalence of both overweight and obesity which was recorded in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia, ranging from 4 to 12, and 3 to 7 percentage points for boys and girls, respectively. Belgium, Czechia and Norway have stable prevalence; whereas the picture is less definite in Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania4. The 5th (2019) and 6th (2022) rounds were marked by a 2 year COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the need to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the children’s and families’ lifestyles, 30 COSI countries are now collecting data on how the governmental measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, impacted families’ and children’s daily lifestyles and nutritional status. COSI progress throughout the last decades enabled to identify the key issues that need to be addressed and mobilized governmental action to counteract the development of childhood obesity, potentially exacerbated by the health, social economic and constraints lived in the recent years.
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Wijnhoven TMA, van Raaij JMA, Spinelli A, et al. WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative: body mass index and level of overweight among 6–9-year-old children from school year 2007/2008 to school year 2009/2010. BMC Public Health. 2014;14:806. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-806
WHO Regional Office for Europe. WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI): Report on the fourth round of data collection, 2015–2017. WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2021. Accessed May 4, 2022.
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